Records that Sound Best on the Right Early Pressing

Sade – Promise

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More Titles Only Offered on Import LP

  • Sade’s Best Album returns with stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides of this UK disc are guaranteed to be amazing sounding compared to whatever you’ve heard
  • There’s no denying the power of Sade’s sultry voice when you can actually hear it – she is on fire on this album
  • Her best song is on side one here – Is It a Crime – and the big band arrangement will surely send chills up and down your spine, especially with Triple Plus sound quality

Not many copies manage to have this kind of consistently sweet sound across both sides. Here are the kind of present, breathy vocals this music absolutely requires to work its magic.

If you know this album at all, you know that most pressings are just too damn dark sounding. Sade herself is typically recessed in the mix and veiled; it takes an exceptional copy such as this one to make her voice both present and breathy. (more…)

Julie London / Calendar Girl in Glorious 1956 Mono

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This Julie London 1956 Classic makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too. Both of these mono sides have plenty of Tubey Magic – they’re fuller, more musical and more natural than most any other copy we played. Julie’s voice sounds particularly nice on this copy – intimate, rich and warm, just as the way we like her to sound.

This is a wonderful sounding record, and almost impossible to find with surfaces this quiet.

However, the original label pressing from 1956 does have better sound, at least it does on the noisy reference copy we used in our shootout. It’s the only early pressing I have ever seen in playable condition, and it’s far too noisy to be enjoyed with audiophile equipment. Julie Is Her Name survived the bad turntables and their owners from the era because they made so many of them. This album did not sell in those kinds of numbers, and the result is that the early pressings are rare and virtually impossible to find in audiophile playing condition. (more…)

Carly Simon / No Secrets – Listening in Depth

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Balance is key to getting all the tracks to sound their best. Many copies we played were too dull or too bright.

One more note: having your VTA set just right is critical to getting the best out of this album. The loudest vocal parts can easily strain otherwise. Once you get your settings dialed in correctly, a copy like this will give you the kind of rich, sweet sound that brings out the best in this music.

Two Points

Listen to Embrace Me, You Child on side two — on the best copies you can really hear the rosiny texture of the strings as they are bowed.

The cymbals can sound amazing — listen to how extended the crashes are on You’re So Vain.

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King Crimson – The Young Persons’ Guide To King Crimson

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  • Forget the Polydor and EG reissues (and anything that’s come along lately) – these early British pressings are the only way to hear this album sound the way it should
  • Contains the rare pre-Crimson Robert Fripp demo of I Talk To The Wind, recorded with a female lead vocalist [which can be found at the end of side one]
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…rounded up an excellent, if somewhat idiosyncratic, survey of the group’s seven years together, its contents ranging from the unimpeachable classics to unimaginable rarities… the definitive study of the original King Crimson.”

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Suppe et al / Overture Overture / Agoult

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  • Off the charts “Triple Triple” (A+++) sound for this classic Decca engineered Living Stereo album – both sides of LSC 2134 earned our top grade of A+++
  • This 1957 Decca recording is overflowing with the kind of rich, spacious, Tubey Magical sound that can only be found on vintage vinyl
  • Cyril Windebank was the engineer — you may remember him from SXL 2012, the legendary recording of Peer Gynt with Fjelstad
  • The most energetic performances we heard, with sound like nothing else we played – Agoult’s overtures are in a league of their own
  • Classic Records did this title back in the ’90s, and was as mediocre and unsatisfying as most of their sorry releases
  • “Suppé certainly has a knack for a good tune, well suited to even the most unpolished of brass band arrangements – the characterful orchestral playing, however, brings these neglected works to life with aplomb.”

When this 1957 recording was first released, you could only buy it in mono, under the title Overtures… In Spades! It would be two years before the stereo pressing was available through RCA. There are two covers and I believe we have Shaded Dog pressings with both. This copy, our Shootout Winner, has the first cover you see in the listing.

Everyone needs a good album of Overtures – the music is exciting and fun, not to mention Demonstration Quality on a pressing such as this. The combination of sound and performance on the best of the RCA Shaded Dog pressings could not be equaled.  (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Sinatra’s Sinatra

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  • Sinatra’s wonderful 1963 release finally returns with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • Forget the reissues – the stereo original we are offering here is the only way to go if rich, tubey, dynamic, musical sound is what you are after
  • Frank rerecorded some of his biggest hits in stereo for this album – the record is just one Sinatra Classic after another
  • “Some of his biggest hits and most famous songs are included in his picks, including “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “Young at Heart.””
  • Amazon 5 Stars: “Riddle’s arrangements are, as always, top-notch, and Sinatra is in fine, engaging form.”

Great bass and weight coupled with lots of space and correct tonality in the midrange add up to only one thing: Triple Plus or close to it sound on both sides!

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top (to keep the strings from becoming shrill) did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we heard them all.

We know a fair bit about the man’s recordings at this point. As of today we’ve done commentaries for more than 21 different Sinatra shootouts, and that’s not even counting the ten or twenty other titles that either bombed or were sold off years ago. (more…)

Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Further Out

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Reviews and Commentaries for Time Further Out

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  • You’ll find KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish on this original 6 Eye Stereo Pressing
  • These sides are incredibly tubey – rich, full-bodied and warm – yet clear, lively and dynamic
  • This copy demonstrates the big-as-life Fred Plaut Columbia Sound at its best – better even than Time Out(!)
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The selections, which range in time signatures from 5/4 to 9/8, are handled with apparent ease (or at least not too much difficulty) by pianist Brubeck, altoist Paul Desmond, bassist Eugene Wright, and drummer Joe Morello on this near-classic.”

Time Further Out is consistently more varied and, dare we say, more musically interesting than Time Out.

If you want to hear big drums in a big room these Brubeck recordings will show you that sound better than practically any record we know of. These vintage recordings are full-bodied, spacious, three-dimensional, rich, sweet and warm in the best tradition of an All Tube Analog recording. (more…)

Brahms – Concerto for Violin and Cello / Tragic Overture / Walter

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  • An outstanding copy of this wonderful Columbia recording – you’ll find solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish on this pressing
  • This copy showed us the balance of clarity and sweetness we were looking for in the violin and cello – not many Columbia recordings from this era can do that
  • This recording is big, clear, transparent and energetic, and is guaranteed to put to shame any Heavy Vinyl classical pressing you own
  • Some old record collectors (like me) say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be – here’s the proof

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Peter, Paul & Mary – Self-Titled

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Peter, Paul and Mary - Self-Titled - White Hot Stamper

  • The band’s debut finally arrives on the site with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) stereo sound throughout – relatively quiet vinyl for a pressing of this vintage
  • This TAS List title has real depth to the soundfield, full-bodied, present vocals, plenty of bottom end weight, and Tubey Magical analog warmth the likes of which you may have never heard
  • 4 stars: “The debut album by Peter, Paul & Mary is still one of the best albums to come out of the 1960s folk music revival. It’s a beautifully harmonized collection of the best songs that the group knew, stirring in its sensibilities and its haunting melodies as it crosses between folk, children’s songs, and even gospel”

Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and especially from modern remasterings). (more…)

Bob Marley – Live!

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Records We Only Sell on Import Vinyl

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  • This Killer Island British import copy of Live! boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
  • As you can imagine, any Reggae Island UK import is very hard to come by – not to mention expensive – with audiophile playing surfaces, but here’s one
  • You won’t believe how big and rich this music can sound (especially if all you know is domestic or modern pressings)
  • Recorded in 1975 and released between Natty Dread (1974) and Rastaman Vibration (1976), Marley was at the peak of his powers at the time
  • A real contender to make the next update of our Top 100 list – it’s that impressive
  • 4 1/2 stars: “One of the most memorable concert recordings of the pop music era.”

This copy gives you EXCELLENT LIVE SOUND, not to mention KILLER PERFORMANCES of many of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ reggae classics. We were absolutely BLOWN AWAY by the sound of the better copies. The Hot Stamper pressings we found were so darn good that this title almost made our Rock and Pop Top 100 list.

Audiophiles don’t seem to be much into reggae, but we had a blast doing shootouts for some of the classic Marley albums. The music is wonderful (check out the All Music Guide review, where they call this “one of the most memorable concert recordings of the pop music era”) and the sound on the best pressings can be truly spectacular.

None of us here had any idea what an amazing live recording this album was until we threw a copy on the table just for kicks and heard an extremely well-recorded live reggae concert jumping out of the speakers.

The domestic pressings are not bad, but they are clearly made from copy tapes and can’t hold a candle to the better imports from across the pond. (more…)